I can recall the days when summer was a quieter time...Or at least something of a different pace. The last time I had that sense was back before seminary. I was living in Athens among friends and was preparing to head off to school in the fall. I was working a lot of hours, but the work was easy at a job that was not really that stressful. I had plenty of time to spend relaxing...Dinners out under the stars, sleeping late (I had an afternoon job)...You get the picture. It was easy to let time slide away. Isn't that what we all remember about summer? Is that something we yearn to get back to in the end?
Perhaps. Or perhaps we all persist in a slightly adolescent fantasy that true relaxation can be found in a season.
Truth is, for most people around the world, summer is a busy time. It is a season of growth in agricultural zones. That means applying the self to work, nurturing the fruits and grains, the vegetables and the livestock so that when harvest comes all is ready for the winter months.
One of those fun facts I glean daily from my 20 or so minutes in front of the television is how canned tomatoes are processed.
Did you know that almost all of the tomatoes in the US come from the agri-business sectors in the south/west coastal regions? AND that the growing season for tomatoes is so "brief" that the harvest begins in midsummer and lasts till early fall...And that in that time, all the tomatoes must be grown, harvested, processed and canned for our use year-round. The mechanism of production works around the clock for the entire season. I though my summer was busy!
Still, there are moments to steal in the midst of the tumult of wrapup and preparation the is the lot of parish ministry folk around the globe. The reality of our work in this interluding season is welcomed because it represents a shift in tempo and structure...And if we are lucky, we can steal a few moments for those easy memories of lazy summer days to be lived out again. We can go for ice cream at the corner on a hot evening, sharing the conviviality of relief from the humidity and heat in a cup of the cold stuff. We can sit by a river or stream, through in an unbaited hook and "fish" while checking our eyelids for pinholes (my great-grandfather's favorite way of defending his naps).
In any event, even as I find myself ramping up for one BUSY fall, I am also getting ready to take some time away. To rest, eat well, exercise and get myself into better trim, holistically speaking.
The true element of taking any Sabbath time to rest and relax, I am learning as an adult, is to make sure you can give yourself permission and space to take the time needed to relax. Not easy, even in the perfect world of the imagined "lazy, hazy" days of summer.
But then, that is what it is all about.